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Tropical Storm Andrea Strengthens, Heads Toward Florida

National Hurricane Center

Andrea, the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane season, strengthened overnight and is forecast to make landfall along Florida's Big Bend area later today.

The National Hurricane Center has issued tropical storm warnings for a wide swath of the western coast of Florida. The system is forecast to move northeast along the eastern seaboard over the next couple of days, so the center has issued storm warnings from Georgia to Virginia.

Federal forecasters say Andrea currently has sustained winds of 60 mph and could cause a 5-foot storm surge along the Florida coast. As far as rain, they say:

"Andrea is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 6 inches over much of the Florida peninsula... eastern parts of the Florida panhandle and southeastern Georgia... with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches possible. Total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are also expected over eastern South Carolina... eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia."

As we've reported, "the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believes that this year, there is a 70 percent chance of 13 to 20 named storms, with winds of 39 mph or higher, of which seven to 11 of them could become full-blown hurricanes, with winds 74 mph or higher."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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